Residents will have to wait a little longer for stronger legal protections against dangerous dogs.
The Raleigh City Council on Tuesday delayed until January a vote on proposed changes to its rules governing dog owners.
East Raleigh residents for years have complained about dogs running loose and intimidating neighborhoods. The city's Law and Public Safety Committee launched a review of Raleigh’s rules earlier this fall after a pitbull named Pablo attacked a bulldog and a woman in separate incidents on Millbank Street.
Changes proposed by the committee impose harsher punishments on dog owners whose dogs harass people, expand when a dog could be considered dangerous and give city staff more options for dealing with dangerous dogs – including the option of killing them.
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Among other changes, the proposal would also require dog owners to notify animal control when an animal bites someone without provocation.
While council members said they generally support stiffer regulations, several members asked for more time to review the proposal.
Tuesday’s council meeting was the first for three newly-elected members: Corey Branch, David Cox and Dickie Thompson.
Branch questioned what it means for a dog to be provoked.
“We’ve got to make sure that it’s clearly defined, make sure that it’s fair,” he said after the meeting.
Mayor Nancy McFarlane instructed council members to send their questions to the city attorney, Tom McCormick, and prepare for a vote on Jan. 4, the council’s next meeting.
Councilman Russ Stephenson suggested the council review the proposal during a work session in January, meaning members likely wouldn’t vote on it until a later meeting. But that would further test the patience of concerned residents who have waited nearly four years for the council to take action, said Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin.
“If we wait until February to move this forward, there’s going to be some very frustrated neighbors,” she said.
Sue Sturgis, one of the East Raleigh residents pushing for tougher rules, said she doesn’t mind the delay.
“The revised ordinance wasn’t available for the public to look at until the Thanksgiving holiday was upon us,” Sturgis said in an email. “The delay will give the public and council time to give the proposed changes a closer look and make any necessary adjustments.”